The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), the leading professional organization representing medical oncologists, has launched a new online service which offers cancer patients a wide range of reference resources, including accurate information on evidence-based cancer treatments in a language that can be easily understood.
“Guides for Patients present very technical information in a language understandable to patients and their relatives, assisting them in structuring and absorbing the complex information they receive at diagnosis, and making educated choices about the treatments available for their disease,” noted Dr Lorenz Jost, from Switzerland, Chair of the ESMO Cancer Patient Working Group.
The medical information provided in the Guides for Patients is based on the ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines, a set of recommendations used by doctors as reference documents for the best standards of care, to guide the diagnosis, follow-up and treatment of different cancer types.
The production of the Guides for Patients has been made possible through the collaboration between ESMO and Reliable Cancer Therapies (RCT), a Swiss private non-profit organization providing research-based information on cancer therapies, who has prepared the texts of the Guides for Patients, in collaboration with the ESMO Cancer Patient Working Group.
“When I was looking for information about cancer treatment at the time when my sister was diagnosed, the data I gathered on who recommends what treatment, where, when, why, and how, was overwhelming, complex and often contradictory,” recalled Luc Verelst, Founder of RCT. “Having the possibility to find all the relevant –and accurate– information in one place and in a format that can easily be searched and understood by ‘lay’ people is a considerable advantage.”
“It is very important for RCT to collaborate with ESMO, because ESMO covers the different European countries and all the professional knowledge and up-to-date information on available cancer treatments.”
The information compiled in the Guides for Patients will empower the patients anywhere in Europe to discuss with their oncologist the proposed treatment versus the one suggested and approved by the most experienced oncologists. “RCT is collaborating in writing the versions for patients from the existing ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines and we hope to achieve our goal to bring evidence-based treatment options to cancer patients,” Verelst concluded.
In addition to the Guides for Patients, the ESMO online patient corner also offers position papers prepared by ESMO experts and submitted to health authorities with recommendations on quality cancer care; a multimedia library, including on-demand access to interviews with key opinion leaders and leading patient groups; surveys and useful links to patient associations; and serves as a contact point for Advocacy-in-Action, a platform for patient advocacy groups to come together and discuss important topics, to facilitate a global dialog on cancer.
“Patients are the driving force and inspiration behind any oncology-related activity. In fact it is the reason why oncologists are constantly pushing the edge of science to revise existing therapies and find new treatment options,” said Dr Jost. “But cancer is a disease that doctors and patients need to fight together in partnership. Therefore empowering patients by making information available and accessible to them is among our foremost professional duties.”
Dr Martine Piccart, Head of Medicine Department at the Jules Bordet in Brussels, Belgium, ESMO President-Elect and member of the RCT Advisory Board, highlighted: “A patient who understands why a specific treatment has been chosen for his/her disease, who is aware of possible side-effects, and who knows how the response of the disease to the treatment will be evaluated, is likely to better adhere to the treatment and to experience less anxiety.”
Medical oncologists in busy clinics may have very limited time to provide patients with all this information and answer their questions; moreover the patient they talk to is often under considerable stress, a condition that does not facilitate the ‘absorption’ and ‘digestion’ of the information.
“I view the initiative of the Guides for Patients by ESMO and RCT as an extremely valuable one, to be viewed not as a substitution for personal interaction but as a new tool for clear communication to patients about their disease, its treatment and its follow-up,” Dr Piccart concluded.
Guides for Patients can be downloaded from www.esmo.org/patients/guides-for-patients.html and www.reliablecancertherapies.com/guidelines.html
ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines are publicly available at www.esmo.org/research/esmo-clinical-practice-guidelines.html
Guides for Patients will be available in 4 languages: English, Dutch, French and Spanish.
The first batch of Guides for Patients will include: Breast cancer, Endometrial cancer, Acute myeloid leukemia, Melanoma, Prostate cancer. Further Guides for Patients will be available on a regular basis and texts will be updated based on updates in the parent ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines.
Information in the Guides for Patients does not replace a medical consultation. We recommend patients to ask their doctors what tests or types of treatments are needed for their type and stage of disease.
The Guides for Patients project is operated on non-financial based agreement.